Settlement of Apple Suit May Put Beatles on iTunes

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The computer and electronics company Apple has settled its trademark dispute with the Beatles recording company of the same name. That could mean Beatles songs owned by the recording company will soon be available on iTunes online music store.


The consumer electronics maker Apple Inc., previously known as Apple Computer has settled a long-running trademark dispute with the Beatles' record label, Apple Corps. NPR's Rob Gifford reports from London.

ROB GIFFORD: Acclaiming the legal deal yesterday, Apple, Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs said in a statement we love the Beatles and it's been painful being at odds with them over these trademarks. Neil Aspinall, manager of the Beatles' label Apple Corps, said it was great to put the dispute behind them and move on. No details of any financial terms were made available, but under the new agreement, Apple, Inc., the computer company, now owns all the trademarks related to the world apple and will license certain trademarks back to Apple corps, the London company founded by the Beatles in the 1960s.

The agreement thus ends a quarter century of legal wrangles between the two companies. It began when the late Beatle George Harrison noticed an ad in a British magazine for the embryonic California computer company that was using the same fruity moniker as the Beatles' record label. The two sides reached a deal in court in 1981 whereby Apple, Inc. agreed not to use the Apple trademark to sell music.

Several more courtroom skirmishes ensued. The previous pact finally collapsed when Steve Jobs launched the iPod and iTunes software in 2003 and the age of large-scale music downloading began. British bookmakers are now giving odds of 8-to-1 that if Beatles songs become available online in light of this agreement, "Hey Jude" will become the number one download. Beatles fans the world over can then thank Apple, Inc and Apple corps for finally deciding to take a sad song and make it better.

Rob Gifford, NPR News, London.

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